Press Release
June 9, 2009

PNRC first to use cellphone technology in averting further
spread of swine flu

While Japan is still exploring the use of cellular phones to stop pandemics, the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) is already using mobile technology to stop the spread of diseases, give aid to victims of disasters and calamities, and carry out other humanitarian works.

Reacting to news reports, PNRC Chairman and Senator Richard J. Gordon ( Ind. ) pointed out that for some years now, the Red Cross has been using mobile phones as early warning system, reaction system, and initial life-saving system during emergency situations.

"The cellular phone numbers of our Red Cross 143 volunteers are registered with our operation center so that every time they text to report a patient or an emergency situation, we can respond promptly," he said.

"We are using cellular phone technology already. We are the first to use this technology. Since we utilized cellular phones, walang nasasayang na segundo," he added.

In line with his modernization programs for the PNRC, Gordon launched the Red Cross 143 and created an operation center equipped with computers and televisions. The operation center is also connected to all PNRC chapters for prompt response to emergencies.

Through the Red Cross 143, the PNRC promptly extended aid to the landslide victims in Barangay Guingsaugon, Southern Leyte in 2006. A resident of the area sought assistance from Gordon, who was in Geneva , Switzerland at that time, through a text message.

The program also enabled the PNRC to raise funds and donate to victims of other disasters and calamities in other parts of the world such as Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami in Myanmar and the earthquake that hit China . The donations turned the PNRC into a donor society.

The PNRC donated $25,000 to the American Red Cross for the victims of Katrina and $150,000 for the victims in Myanmar and China .

On the Influenza A (H1N1) that has already affected 73 countries worldwide, the Red Cross promptly transported a patient from Olongapo to Manila for testing at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM). Once again, assistance was sought through a text message.

Gordon urged cellular phone subscribers to have their phone numbers registered and join Red Cross 143 to allow them to report emergency situations and seek prompt assistance.

"When a person, whose number is registered, calls the operation center to report that somebody got injured, or there is a calamity in their area, his number will appear. We will confirm the report then take immediate action," he said.

"The Red Cross 143 of one barangay can help the other barangay while the national government is generating resources," he added.

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